University of toronto-mississauga department of visual studies



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UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO—MISSISSAUGA

DEPARTMENT OF VISUAL STUDIES

WINTER 2011
VCC 390 H5/TOPICS IN VISUAL CULTURE & COMMUNICATION: PICTURING THE SUBURBS

LECTURES: Wednesday 3:00-5:00, CC 2150

SCREENINGS: Wednesday 5:00-7:00 / NE 268
Professor: Meghan Sutherland

Office: CCT 3022

Contact: meghan.sutherland@utoronto.ca / #905-828-3822

Office Hours: M 3:00-4:00 / W 11:00-12:00

Teaching Assistant: Graeme Langdon
Course Description:
In many respects, the rise of suburbia cannot be separated from the economic development of television and new media technologies and the role they play in the construction of mainstream visual culture today. Perhaps for this same reason, artists and activists working in a wide range of “high” art practices have often used the image of the suburbs as the aesthetic trope of capitalist mass-production par excellence—the very embodiment of a culture that has sacrificed aesthetic value as such to the economic imperatives of mass-mediated standardization and surface appearance. This course will try to make sense of how images of the suburbs move across these uncomfortably entwined threads of 20th and 21st century visual production, and the implications this movement holds for how we understand the relation between aesthetics and mass-production; between private and public space; between “high” and “low” art; and between visual media and the sociopolitical space of the built environment. We will trace the appearance of suburban imagery across contemporary photography, painting, avant-garde film, and multimedia installation art as well as popular genres of film, television, and new media, in each case exploring the latter’s significance as both an object of visual culture and a distinctly pictorial mode of spatial and cultural organization.
Required Books (available at the UTM Bookstore):
Hayden, Dolores. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000. New

York: Vintage, 2004. (BS)

Simpson, Bennett and Chrissie Iles, eds. Dan Graham: Beyond. Cambridge: The MIT

Press, 2009. (DG)

Spigel, Lynn. Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs.

Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001. (WD)

All other required readings will be available on the Blackboard website for the course. (BB)
Strongly Recommended Books (available at the UTM Bookstore):
Spigel, Lynn. Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.


Blackboard

Additional readings on syllabus as well as course announcements and assignments will appear on Blackboard, the online Learning Management System of UTM https://portal.utoronto.ca/. In order to access the portal, you will log in using your UTOR id and password. Use of Blackboard requires a U of T email address. If you have not activated your university email account, please do so immediately, so that you will not miss any important messages or information.


Course Workload/Grading Scheme:

1. Short Paper (5 pages/1250 words, not including footnotes and bibliography): This paper will address the relationship between images or media and a suburban space or place that you know, with the aim of connecting your own experience of the built environment and its mediation to the concepts and issues discussed in class. To that end, the paper must refer to at least one scholarly source. Further details provided in class. Due on 2 February. Submit electronic copy to turnitin.com by 2:00PM, and bring a hardcopy to class. 20%

2. Class Discussion Contribution. In our second meeting students will sign up on a group basis to lead the discussion for one meeting in the course of the term. For that week, the group of students in charge of initiating the discussion portion of the class will propose a set of major ideas and discussion issues related to the readings to the class at large. Further details in class. 10%

3. Midterm Exam on 16 February: An in-class exam covering course material thus far. 10%

4. Term Paper (8-10 pages/2,000-2,500 words, plus citations and references) on research topic of your choice. Citations, grammar, and spelling count. Due on 30 March. Submit electronic copy to turnitin.com by 2:00PM and bring a hardcopy to seminar. 40%

5. Attendance and Participation is mandatory for all parts of the course and is absolutely crucial for your success. (See attendance policy below.) 20%


Turnitin.com

Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to Turnitin.com for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University's use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site". Students are permitted to opt-out of using Turnitin, but will need to notify me well in advance so that we can make alternative arrangements to check the work as rigorously. For instructions on using turnitin.com, see: http://www.teaching.utoronto.ca/Assets/CTSI+Digital+Assets/PDFs/turnitin-guide-students.pdf .




Due dates/Lateness/Extensions:

You are expected to complete assignments on time. There will be a penalty for lateness of 5 percentage points per day, including weekends, and work will not be accepted one week after the due date. Deadline extensions will be granted only for a compelling reason and with authorized documentation (in case of illness, an official U of T medical certificate), to be submitted within one day of the due date. You must also notify the instructor via email within 24 hours of the due date if you cannot turn in a paper due to documented illness or emergency. If you know you will miss class when a paper is due, please turn it in early. Any extension beyond the faculty’s deadline for the submission of term work (the last day of classes) may only be granted if it does not interfere with the submission of grades.


Course Schedule (Subject to change):
ONE. 5 JANUARY. THE SUBURBAN, THE PICTURESQUE & THE VISIONARY
Screening: Molly / See It Now
TWO. 12 JANUARY. PICTURE / WINDOW
Reading: Dolores Hayden, “Picturesque Enclaves” (BS) / Lynn Spigel, “The Suburban Home Companion” (WD) / William Boddy, “Live TV,” from Fifties Television (BB)
Screening: The Burns and Allen Show / All-Star Revue / Assorted Commercials
THREE. 19 JANUARY. DOMESTICITY FROM THEATRICALITY TO SPECTACLE
Reading: Beatriz Colomina, “The Split Wall,” from Sexuality and Space (BB) / Lynn Spigel, “The People in the Theater Next Door” and “Women’s Work,” in Make Room for TV (BB)
Screening: The Fly (1958) / The Addams Family
FOUR. 26 JANUARY. PICTURE/WINDOW II: ON MEDIACY
Reading: Dolores Hayden, “Borderlands” (BS) / Martin Heidegger, Excerpt from “The Age of the World Picture” (BB) / Mary Douglas, Excerpt from Purity and Danger (BB) / Spigel, “Outer Space and Inner Cities” (WD)
Screening: The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet / Plymouth News Caravan
WEEK FIVE. 2 FEBRUARY. MASS-PRODUCTION & ABSTRACT SPACE
Reading: Dan Graham, “Thoughts on Schema” (DG) / Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry” (BB) / Mark von Schlegell, “Dan Graham SF” (DG) / Dolores Hayden, “Sitcom Suburbs” (BS)
Screening: Piece Touchée / Homes for America / The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet
SIX. 9 FEBRUARY. SERIALISM, SERIES, AND DISPOSABLE CULTURE
Reading: Rhea Anastas, “Minimal Difference” (DG) / Alexandra Midal, “Disposable Magazine, Permanent Crisis” (DG) / Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde & Kitsch” (BB)
Screening: Welcome to the Dollhouse
WEEK SEVEN. FEBRUARY 16. SUBURBIA AS ANTI-AESTHETIC
Reading: Selection from The Anti-Aesthetic, ed. Hal Foster (BB) / Bennett Simpson, “A Minor Threat: Dan Graham and Music” (DG) / Robert Venturi, from Learning from Las Vegas (BB)
Screening: TV Funhouse / Pee-Wee’s Playhouse / Pleasantville
WEEK EIGHT. 23 FEBRUARY. NO CLASS/READING WEEK
WEEK NINE. 2 MARCH. NONSPACE
Reading: Joshua Meyrowitz, Excerpt from No Sense of Place (BB) / Margaret Morse, “An Ontology of Everyday Distraction,” in Logics of Television (BB)
Screening: Death By Chocolate: West Edmonton Shopping Mall / Pavillions
WEEK TEN. 9 MARCH. INSIDE/OUT: PUBLICITY & PRIVATIZATION

Reading: Jurgen Habermas, Excerpt from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (BB) / Mike Davis, from City of Quartz (BB) / Mark Fancis, “A Public Space” (DG) / Beatriz Colomina, “Beyond Pavilions: Architecture as a Machine to See” (DG)
Screening: La Haine / Sanford & Son / Good Times
WEEK ELEVEN. 16 MARCH. PROGRAMMING GHETTOS
Reading: Spigel, “Outer Space and Inner Cities” (WD) / News Clippings / Dolores Hayden, “The Importance of Older Suburbs” (BS) / Jones, from Race and Suburbia (BB)
Screening: Weeds / The Addams Family / Globe / Desperate Housewives
WEEK TWELVE. 23 MARCH. PENETRATING THE SUBURBS
Reading: Dolores Hayden, “Nostalgia & Futurism” (BS) / Lynn Spigel, “From Domestic Space to Outer Space” (WD) / Ken Jacobs Writings
Screening: Property Virgins / House Hunters / The Jonses
WEEK THIRTEEN. 30 MARCH. LIFESTYLE / PROGRAMMING
Reading: Lynn Spigel, “Yesterday’s Future, Tomorrow’s Home” (WD) / Michel Foucault, from Security Territory Population (BB)

Attendance Policy

All screenings are mandatory. Some of what we will look at is rare and thus cannot be made up, so plan accordingly. More than two unexcused absences from lecture and screenings will affect your participation mark. Excused absences will require supporting documentation (in case of illness, an official UofT medical certificate). Absences that are not accepted include those involving personal travel, extended vacation time, unverified medical reasons, and purported conflicts with a work/employment schedule, etc. Please notify me at the start of the semester if you are to miss a class for religious observance or official university business. If you do not attend class, you are responsible for: catching up on missed material; watching any missed films in your own time; becoming aware of any announcements made during class (though important announcements will also be posted on Blackboard); obtaining copies of handouts.

Students are expected to assist in maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. In order to assure that all students have an opportunity to gain from time spent in class, and unless otherwise approved by the instructor, students are prohibited from using cellular phones or pagers, eating or drinking in class, making offensive remarks, reading newspapers, sleeping or engaging in any other form of distraction, including using laptop computers and other such devices for purposes other than educational. Inappropriate behavior in the classroom shall result in, at the minimum, a request to leave the classroom, and at the maximum substantial penalization as reflected in your final grade for the course.
You are supposed to be familiar with the Code of Behaviour on Academic

Matters (see http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/regcal/WEBGEN124.html) and Code of Student Conduct (see http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/regcal/WEBGEN125.html), which spell out your rights, your duties and provide all the details on grading regulations and academic offenses at the University of Toronto.



University Statement on Academic Honesty

Honesty and fairness are considered fundamental to the University’s mission, and, as a result, all those who violate those principles are dealt with as if they were damaging the integrity of the University itself. When students are suspected of cheating or a similar academic offence, they are typically surprised at how formal and seriously the matter is dealt with – and how severe the consequences can be if it is determined that cheating did occur. The University of Toronto treats academic offences very seriously. Students should note that copying, plagiarizing, or other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Any student caught engaging in such activities will be subject to academic discipline ranging from a mark of zero on the assignment, test or examination to dismissal from the university as outlined in the UTM calendar. Any student abating or oherwise assisting in such misconduct will also be subject to academic penalties.



University Statement on Plagiarism
Students are assumed to be informed about plagiarism and are expected to be familiar the handout, titled "How Not to Plagiarize” see: http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize
AccessAbility
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or the AccessAbility Resource Centre as soon as possible. The UTM AccessAbility Resource Centre staff (located in) are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The Centre is located in Room 2047, South Building. Telephone: (905) 569-4699, Email: access.utm@utoronto.ca, URL: http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/access/ The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.
Academic Skills Centre
The Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (housed in the UTM Library) offers both individual appointments and workshops for students having difficulty with reading and writing skills. The RGASC offers a full range of workshops, seminars, and individual consultations to help students identify and develop the skills they need for success in their studies.  Phone: 905-828-3858, Email: academicskills.utm@utoronto.ca


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